High Level Segment – Statement of Switzerland

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The international community is facing unprecedented challenges in the fight against drugs. Markets and patterns of consumption are changing ever more rapidly. Meanwhile progress in reducing supply and demand is limited.
The Member States have negotiated very hard to come to a consensus on the text we have in front of us today. Switzerland is aware of all the efforts that have been made. Nevertheless, my country is left feeling that some issues might have deserved more attention. In this regard we would like to highlight the following:

1. We are particularly concerned about the fact that individuals are being deprived of their lives for drug offences. Switzerland unequivocally rejects the concept that a person may be killed in the name of justice. Capital punishment has no place in the modern world.
2. We are also concerned about practices that go on in the name of “therapy” or “rehabilitation”: practices such as forced detention, forced labour, and physical or psychological abuse that contravene states’ human rights obligations. There is no evidence that such practices are effective, and we call for their abolition.
3. According to UNAIDS the global goal of halving HIV infections among people who inject drugs by 2015 will not be reached. Criminalization, stigma and discrimination deter people with HIV from seeking health-care and social services. Countries that implemented harm reduction and public health strategies early have experienced consistently low rates of HIV transmission among people who inject drugs. We therefore encourage improving access to sterile syringes and other harm reduction measures that are scientifically proven to be effective in reducing the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne infections.
4. It is our obligation to apply the most appropriate means of protecting public health, public safety and safeguarding people’s welfare. That is why pilot projects and new approaches developed in their specific contexts as well as their scientific evaluation are so important in improving the efficacy and efficiency of our interventions in the field. Therefore, Switzerland actively supports harm reduction activities and considers them to be within the scope and the spirit of the three UN drug conventions.
5. We are concerned by the tragedy of the inadequate availability of opioid analgesics. The WHO estimates that millions of people annually fail to receive adequate treatment for moderate to severe pain. We need to recognize their suffering as an unintended and unacceptable side-effect of drug control. We are responsible for ensuring the availability of internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, and we urgently need to address this challenge.
Here in Vienna we have the opportunity to review progress made with an open mind and a spirit of shared responsibility. It is time for an approach that includes all UN agencies that deal with the effects of the world drug problem. It is also time to consider drug policies that take people’s health and safety into account. Respecting and fostering the human rights of all people, including those who use drugs is an imperative.
Mr. Chairman, thank you.

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